I have to admit at first, I was taken completely off my chair with this novel. First, being set in Sweden, and the originality of the storyline of the two people who you would never guess who would meet and fall in love.
Benny has been single his whole life, working on the family’s farm in the country since his parents died. He has always had the same friends even through high school, and is working all of the time to keep the farm afloat, not much for anything else. He does do into town every day, to take care of his mother’s grave and there is this woman who wears these drab clothes in colour and style sitting on the bench which is adjacent to his mothers graves looking at an impossible plain headstone..Well, it isn’t a headstone, just a stone.
Desiree or “Shrimp” as she is known in the book has just lost her husband in the most violent way – in a cycling accident. When she goes to the cemetery day after day she notices Olaf tending to someone’s grave like it is a garden – pulling weeds, raking the dirt, and planting flowers and shrubs to make it more appealing. He wears the most obscene flannel strips shirts and he just looks odd, and hardly says anything. But, then again he thinks the same as her of worse – YUCK!
But as the story wanes on, they both have this chemistry that is hard to deny. Shrimp is happy with her modern furniture, minimalistic; whereas, Olaf is more of the messy one. Having his mothers cross stitch all around the house, messy unfinished food and dirty dishes in the sink, because he simply doesn’t have the time at the end of a long day. He wants a woman that can cook and clean, and have babies. She is the type that cannot cook, and when she does, it is the frozen sort or those vegetarian meals – nothing or hardly any meat. What man would be able to suffice on that?
They were doomed from the start…
As the days and weeks go on, both of them realize in their own minds that they cannot deny the chemistry and how one another feels when they are around one another. Is it just the sex? Do all of the other things matter?
In this short, quirky, novel which was originally published in Sweden, which was then translated into English, gives us another perspective on how in another part of the world, where their values, views, and expectations of one another are different and somewhat the same. I laughed, shook my head at times and understood the ways that men and women think – differently, and yet the same, but at times in differences in perspectives and depths.
I really enjoyed this novel immensely. It was charming, funny, and serious all at the same time it takes a brief look into the lives at how men and women are the same, but utterly different. But one thing is true, if you want something bad enough, compromising is the key to any good and happy relationship.